Mag Execs Tout Online Video
Video leverages the Internet's audiovisual capability, the execs said, thus differentiating magazines' online offerings from their print editions and allowing online properties to grow and attract viewers without undermining legacy publications. What's more, online video can be produced cheaply, yet can provide publishers with a valuable revenue stream because marketers are willing to pay a premium for quality video inventory.
ESPN Publishing's Senior Vice President and General Manager Keith Clinkscales said that after a sizable initial investment in digital infrastructure, the cost of online content can be kept quite low, as viewers may simply be interested in "behind-the-scenes" footage that takes them inside the editorial process. "People who make magazines think that people don't want to see what goes on behind the scenes, but the results have been very good," Clinkscales said, pointing to the popularity of "Deadline," an online promotional feature that details the monthly scramble to produce ESPN The Magazine.
"Deadline" follows photographers to photo shoots, offering hints of that month's content, and is released just before the magazine hits the newsstands. "Every episode ends with the cover of that month's magazine," Clinkscales said, noting that "80 percent of people who start the video watch it all the way through."
National Geographic has taken a similar approach to a different subject, according to Senior Editor For New Media Valerie May, by simply equipping photographers with video cameras they can use during their assignments. The footage they shoot becomes part of mini-documentaries that are posted on the magazine's Web site. National Geographic has also innovated with live streaming video via satellite from remote areas of natural interest, including a heavily trafficked watering hole in the Serengeti during the dry season. The latter stream was "immensely popular," May said, recalling that viewers sent "thousands of e-mails a day when it was taken down, so we had to actually show them the rain there, to say, 'it's over.'"
Video content need not be entirely original, added Ira Becker, senior vice president and general manager of the 1UP Network, a multiplatform media company originally centered on magazines. Describing 1UP's online video offerings, Becker said: "It's teasers, trailers, features, homegrown video, old commercials--all organized and searchable, as a search engine for all the video content around video games on the Web." Simply by aggregating video from other sources, 1UP has transformed itself into a kind of gaming-related VOD emporium.
Dan Orum, publisher, president, and CEO of IDG Entertainment, which also publishes a portfolio of gaming magazines and Web sites, explained that publishers can also easily draw on aggregated video to create semi-original content. As an example, he played a short video called "Mario Bros.' Biggest Sell-Outs," which mocked various promotional uses of the venerable game over the last decade.
Cheapest of all, of course, is user-generated content, according to 1UP's Becker, who noted that "90 percent of our content is user-generated." Here, he said, YouTube has revolutionized the industry. He recalled that 1UP--which was in the process of developing its site when YouTube first appeared--held off on launching its site to further study YouTube. "We delayed the launch of our game video site because there was a new site that had the technology for getting videos online that was elegant and clean, and we had to react."